A Complete Guide To Growing Rhubarb

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Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that is prized for its tart, flavorful stalks. It’s a hardy plant that is relatively easy to grow, making it a great addition to any garden. Below we’ll explore the optimal soil conditions for growing rhubarb, the nutrients required throughout its life, and how to start it from seed.

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Why You Should Start Growing Rhubarb

growing rhubarb


There are several reasons why one might consider adding rhubarb to their garden. One of those being its nutritional benefits. Rhubarb is a low-calorie vegetable that offers a range of essential vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, and potassium. Additionally, it contains antioxidants and other beneficial compounds, such as anthocyanins and quercetin, that have been linked to various health benefits. However, it’s important to note that the leaves of the rhubarb plant are toxic and should not be consumed. Only the stalks should be eaten.

Growing Rhubarb Is Easy

Rhubard is incredibly easy to grow. It is a hardy, low-maintenance plant that can tolerate a wide range of soil and weather conditions. Once established, it can produce stalks for up to 20 years with minimal care. Additionally, the pest pressure on rhubarb is virtually non-existent. The leaves of the rhubarb plant contain oxalic acid, which is toxic to many insects and animals. This may be why pests are deterred from feeding on the plant.

Rhubarb Is Versatile

growing rhubarb plants

Rhubarb can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes, from pies and crumbles to chutneys and sauces. Its tart flavor pairs well with fruits like strawberries and raspberries, as well as with meats like pork and chicken.

Come try this delicious Rhubarb Crisp Recipe!

rhubarb crisp

Overall, adding rhubarb to your garden can provide both nutritional and culinary benefits, while also promoting sustainable gardening practices.

Soil Conditions For Growing Rhubarb

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Rhubarb thrives in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Ideally, the soil pH should be between 5.5 and 6.8, which is slightly acidic. It’s important to avoid soil that is heavy in clay or compacted, as this can lead to poor drainage and root rot. To improve soil drainage, you can mix in peat, coco coir, perlite, or vermiculite.


Rhubarb is a heavy feeder, meaning it requires a lot of nutrients to grow. When planting, it’s a good idea to mix in a slow-release fertilizer or compost. Throughout the growing season, you can fertilize with a balanced fertilizer every four to six weeks. Rhubarb also benefits from a top dressing of compost in the fall, which will help to enrich the soil for the next growing season.

Growing Rhubarb From Seed

growing rhubarb from seed

Rhubarb can be started from seed, but it’s important to note that it’s a slow-growing plant. It can take up to two years for the plant to become established enough to produce stalks. To start from seed, you can sow the seeds indoors in the early spring, or outdoors in the fall. Plant the seeds 1/4 inch deep and keep the soil moist until germination, which can take up to three weeks. Once the seedlings have developed their first true leaves, you can transplant them to their permanent location in the garden.

If you’re looking for a faster way to establish rhubarb in your garden, you can also purchase bare-root or potted plants from a garden center or nursery. These plants are already established and should begin producing stalks in their second year.

Harvesting Rhubarb

Rhubarb should be harvested in the spring, typically starting in late April or early May, when the stalks are thick and firm. Here are some steps to follow when harvesting rhubarb:

  1. Wait until the plant is at least two to three years old before harvesting any stalks. This allows the plant to establish a strong root system.
  2. Choose stalks that are at least 10 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Do not harvest any stalks that are thin or spindly.
  3. Grasp the stalk near the base, and gently twist and pull it away from the plant. Do not cut the stalks, as this can damage the plant.
  4. Remove the leaves from the stalks, as they contain high levels of oxalic acid and can be toxic if consumed.
how to grow rhubarb

It’s important to note that you should not harvest more than one-third of the plant’s stalks at a time. This allows the plant to continue to grow and produce more stalks throughout the season. Additionally, you should stop harvesting rhubarb by mid-summer, as the plant needs time to store energy for the next growing season.

In conclusion, growing rhubarb is a great way to add a flavorful and nutritious vegetable to your garden. To ensure optimal growth, make sure to plant in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter, fertilize regularly, and start from seed or purchase established plants. With a little bit of care and attention, you can enjoy delicious rhubarb for years to come.

Hey Beautiful! I’m Tara, garden enthusiasts, keeper of chickens, herbal homesteader and stay at home mom of 3 tiny humans and a sourdough starter named Ma. I love teaching others how to live a self-sufficient and sustainable life through homesteading, scratch cooking, and remembering to live barefoot, wild and free!

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